Article

Regional Variation: The Case of Scandinavian Latin

Karsten Friis-Jensen

in The Oxford Handbook of Medieval Latin Literature

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780195394016
Published online September 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195394016.013.0006

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 Regional Variation: The Case of Scandinavian Latin

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  • Classical Studies
  • Classical Reception
  • Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)

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In Scandinavia, Latin literacy is closely connected with the acceptance of Christianity as the official religion. Saxo Grammaticus is the only Scandinavian who may claim a place at the forefront of the literary classicism of the so-called renaissance of the twelfth century. Saxo's classicizing Latin is atypical when compared with the language of other medieval Latin texts from Scandinavia. As long as northerners found their way to the centres of learning abroad, Scandinavian medieval Latin developed along the lines of European Latin. These texts are products of a complicated linguistic process, since they originated in reports in Old Swedish of the future saint's visions, and underwent translation and various kinds of editing. Latin texts written by Scandinavians in this period should suffice to show how quickly and how thoroughly this cultural assimilation took place. The historiographer Saxo Grammaticus, the philosopher Boethius de Dacia, and the mystic Birgitta of Sweden are such Scandinavians, whose Latin works bear comparison with those of their best-known European contemporaries.

Keywords: Scandinavia; Latin literacy; Christianity; Saxo Grammaticus; medieval Latin texts; European Latin

Article.  8289 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Classical Reception ; Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)

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